Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is Social Media Marketing Worth The Effort?

A lot of business owners I talk to have the misconception that social media marketing is the only thing they need to do, and that sets them up for unrealistic expectations leading to abandoning their online presence.  It is vital to understand that social media marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy and online presence.  It does not replace every marketing tool and it's not the Holy Grail!

Social media is most effective when it is incorporated into your entire online presence. Just setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and even Linkedin, don't magically drive traffic or business.  Setting up a Blog sitting independently in cyberspace also has little effect. You need to attach your Blog to your business site and use this mechanism as a P.R. tool to disseminate information about your company, products and customers on a regular basis not just now and then. And it doesn't stop there.  You need to make sure that your Blog postings are searchable via the social networks and bookmarks. It all needs to link and mesh. This has become the new SEO.

Many social networks enable you to consolidate your posts, so you can write and make one post on your Facebook page’s wall, and that post will then automatically be “tweeted” via your Twitter account, which will automatically post to your LinkedIn profile. These features save you time and money but not all postings are appropriate for each medium.  Twitter is great for alerting people to an event for example, or a special one day offer with a coupon code, but don't expect to engage in conversation with customers. Facebook is better suited for that.

You have to build your online presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Again, many business owners think this can happen in the space of a few weeks or a month.  It's a long term, ongoing function of your marketing department or outside consultant and requires commitment. Don't start this process unless you have the commitment for an annual budget.  Maintenance is required daily and maintenance means someone has to do it.  The biggest mistakenly held notion is that marketing is suddenly going to cost nothing because social networks are free compared to advertising space which costs money. Both cost money and both need to be incorporated into your marketing strategy, but use each medium and tool properly and you will see traffic go up, brand image improve and ultimately sales also increase. And along the way you will learn about your customer base, your competitors and the market.

For more on how to build a social media marketing campaign, you can purchase "Social Media Marketing For Small Business" by Audrey Peters in the iBookstore or Amazon Kindle.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Shoppers Are Going Mobile

The smartphone has now become a must have for Christmas shopping, helping consumers find where the best deals are. About a decade ago it was the Internet that changed how people shopped.  Now it is the smartphone that's enabling consumers to find the deals before leaving home and then comparing prices while in the malls.  A European survey by the Mobile Marketing Association claims 67 per cent of shoppers (in UK, France and Germany combined) will use their phones for shopping this Christmas, up 23 percent from last year.  Among the highest users are the French, at 82 percent. In fact, Europeans have already embraced payment by smartphone or the smartphone wallet.

Apps like BarCode scanner and ShopSavvy seem to be among the most popular and helped one shopper in Greensboro save $100 in one trip. But it's not just about looking for the best deals.  Shoppers are using their smartphones to find product information and reviews while they are in the store.  A Study by Accenture found that 73% of shoppers with a smartphone favor using it to handle small tasks and product information, rather than interact with an employee in the store. Getting information about a product is easier online where shoppers can also see customer opinions.  If you are a retailer, it has become vital to offer social media interaction with shoppers, whether they are browsing at home or, actually engaged in the shopping trip.  Larger retailers need to take this further with a specific mobile App to make the user experience easier. Overall, the Accenture survey suggests 56% of shoppers with smartphones believe smartphones will make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

There's no question that smartphones are replacing traditional mobile phones and this Christmas is seeing even more sales of actual smartphones.  BestBuy is using social media to offer special deals daily, especially via Facebook. So if you haven't yet purchased a smartphone, you might actually get one for free with a 2 year contract right now.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Live Dish TV And DVR on Your iPad

The iPad is certainly becoming the must have electronic product these days. Dish Network has launched a new App for the iPad bringing live TV and DVR access. Now your iPad turns from an ereader to your TV anywhere. If you have a SlingLoaded DVR, the ViP 922 as well as the new sling adaptor, you'll be able to watch live and recorded television programming. Users will also be able to browse and search through up to nine days of programming, schedule DVR recordings, manage conflicts, and delete content on multiple receivers.

And if that isn't enough, you can also use your iPad just like a large remote control right from your sofa. The application, called Remote App, is free from the iTunes store and also works with the iPhone unlike the App from Sling which costs $30. The Dish TV "Everywhere" service is the only pay-TV provider to offer a true TV everywhere solution that's now on the iPad. 


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